It goes without saying that I read a lot of Harper Perennial books. But sometimes (in fact, many times) I like to venture outside of my semi-required reading and reading other publishers’ books. And sometimes, even though this is the Harper Perennial blog, I have to write about them and recommend them to you:
Girls in White Dresses
Girls in White Dresses is a novel-in-stories about a group of Boston College grads living in New York City, following them from just post-college until they’re around 30. And I loved it. What I loved most of all was the way the girls talked to each other—Jennifer Close nailed the dialogue, really capturing the way friends speak, the shorthand and the slang that comes from knowing people for forever. But beyond that she nailed the feeling of being in New York in your 20s, when you’re vaguely dissatisfied and you don’t know why, and your job sucks and your boyfriend sucks and your apartment sucks and the only thing that doesn’t suck are your friends. Also, the chapter on being a bridesmaid was so dead-on I wanted to call my best friend (who I was a bridesmaid with) and read it to her.
If you liked Girls in White Dresses, the Harper Perennial book you might enjoy is: Rachel Shukert’s Everything Is Going to Be Great
Rachel’s book is a memoir, and it’s more uproarious, but it captures that same “who am I? where is my life going? why am I so drunk?” feeling.
A Friend of the Family
I was blown away by this book this weekend. It’s about a man whose life, though not entirely perfect, actually pretty much is—loving wife, rebellious son who will probably ultimately turn out fine, great job as a doctor, awesome friends. And then he lets it all fall apart after the return of his best friend’s bizarre daughter, but not in the way you’d expect. I was completely, totally riveted.
If you liked A Friend of the Family, the Harper Perennial book you might enjoy is: You Don’t Love This Man YDLTM explores the same territory—a man in midlife taking stock of his life as it seems to be falling apart—but it’s somewhat lighter. (Although I cried at this and not at AFOTF, so who knows.)
Just got in a new quote for Adam Wilson’s Flatscreen, out this winter:
“Adam Wilson’s Flatscreen is the sort of novel we’ve heard nobody is able to write anymore: erudite and hilarious, raunchy and topical, and flat-out fun. Nicholson Baker meets Barthleme with a dash of Nabokov – Wilson is not a writer for the faint-of-heart. But quit mourning the so-called death of the great novel and buy this altogether magical book.”
— Darin Strauss, author of Chang & Eng and Half a Life
Gerry Hadden had planned to be a Buddhist monk, but changed his mind when he was offered his dream job: NPR correspondent for Latin America. He arrived in Mexico in 2000 not knowing what to expect, and soon found that both hope and uncertainty would characterize his time there. He witnessed and reported on Mexico’s first democratic transition of power, Colombia’s drug wars, Guatemala’s emigration issues, and Haiti’s bloody rebellion, all while trying to make a home for himself and the woman he came to love. I started reading his book right as I started listening to NPR on a regular basis (I was never a radio listener, but moved in with a devoted one, and now I listen every day), and it completely enhanced my daily listening. If you’ve ever listened to a two-minute NPR report from a war-torn country that manages to get at the heart of what’s going on and wondered what life was like for the reporter, or how he or she had managed to get the story, this is the book for you.
This short video shows some of the photos from the book and really highlights the amazing and unusual situations Gerry encountered:
We launched our summer lists a few weeks ago, but I haven’t had a chance to sit down and talk about the books I’m most excited about until now. Of course, just because a book isn’t on the list below doesn’t mean it’s not going to be awesome. This list also includes the books that will be published by our friends at Harper hardcover. So, here are my books to look out for in summer 2012:
My #1 most awesome, most anticipated, book:
236 Pounds of Vice-President by Jason Mulgrew (like Everything is Wrong with Me, the high school years. The pictures alone had me laughing so hard I nearly peed my pants, and Jason Mulgrew is one of my all-time favorite authors to hang out with.)
The book that made me blush:
With My Body by Nikki Gemmell (This book about the romance between a young woman and an older, mysterious man is dirty. In a good way!)
The book with the great tag line:
The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones (Someone described this Harper hardcover book as “Downton Abbey with a dark turn.” I don’t even watch Downton Abbey and that still intrigued me.)
The followup to a favorite:
The Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (We all loved The Financial Lives of the Poets, and now Jess is back with something completely different that involves an almost-love affair, Italy, Hollywood, and the making of Cleopatra.)
The other book with a great tag line:
I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag by Jennifer Gilbert (a memoir described as “Lucky meets Bridesmaids.”)
I have been DYING to tell you all about this promotion we’ve had in the works for a while!
For the month of August, we’re offering 20 of our backlist ebooks for just 99 cents each! They’re available at all retailers: amazon, B&N, the ibookstore, the google bookstore, and of course through your favorite indies. Many of our favorite indies have even put up special pages on their sites for the promotion, and I’m thrilled to link to them here!
Of the 20 books we’re featuring, I’ve read 13 in their entirety and parts of some others, so if anyone out there wants to know which book to try, just let me know what type of stuff you like in the comments and I’m happy to make a suggestion!
I’ve been a bad, bad Tales of the City reader. Here I am, posting late again, this time about More Tales of the City, the second book in the series. In my defense, I will say that I did actually read the book only a day or so late, but just haven’t had a chance to post. I’m hanging my head in shame right now, trust me.
So, when we left off, what we learned in the first book was that everyone has secrets. Here in the second book, many of those secrets have been revealed. The big one, of course, is Mrs. Madrigal’s, which began to come out into the open in the first book but is really explored here. Somehow, I remembered this revelation coming at the very end of the series, so I was quite surprised to see if take up so many pages here! Other than that, things pretty much keep shuffing along for the residents of 28 Barbary Lane, and I continue to find it hard to talk about them without spoiling anything for anyone. There’s a death, a life-threatening illness, a crazy crime ring, a romance, and more, but it always feels fun and never too far over the top.
Character I loved the most in this book: Brian (still)
Character I liked the least: Burke. He’s kind of a drip.
Who are your favorite and least favorite characters so far? Who do you hope we see more of in the next book?